Since I decided to take up running a couple of years ago, I've had my ups and downs with it. It can be a struggle, often a mental one, to push myself out the door or go a little bit farther. I'm not athletic. I don't run marathons. I run not to compete with other people but for health reasons, plus it makes me feel good mentally. Running clears my head. When I finish a run, I'm always glad I did it, even if I whine about it before and during.
I've learned a lot about myself because of running. In many ways, book blogging is like running. No, it won't give you lean thighs, but some of the things I've learned about running applies to blogging as well.
- You can do it! Unless you are physically unable, you can run. The girl who was always picked last in gym class? That was me. That girl would be shocked to see herself running now. Something clicked for me in my 30s, I believed that I could do it. The same can said about blogging. There is a certain mindset, a I-can-do-it attitude required for both. It's a lot of work, but the rewards are worth it, especially the intangible ones.
- You set the pace. With training, you can be as fast as your body will allow. You don't have to be at the head of the pack if you don't want to be. There doesn't have to be a pack. You can enjoy the scenery or you can tear it up. It's up to you. You don't have to be a book blogging guru with a thousand followers. You can just write about the books you love.
- There will always be someone faster than you, and someone slower. Even when you set the pace, there will be others with their own goals and some will be able to meet those goals faster than you can. There are bloggers who sneak up on you: where did they come from? Don't worry, there will be someone behind you trying to get where you are. Also remember that long after the fast ones hit the finish line, the slower runners are still out there, running like a boss.
- You might get injured. You pull something, you fall. It happens. It happens in blogging too. Your computer breaks. Someone hacks your blog. You get a nasty email. You say something that other people don't like and they leave angry comments. An author hates your review and says so...to everyone. Someone steals your feed or copies your review. Don't let it get you down. This is a temporary setback. You will recover.
- There will be good days, there will be bad. I know as soon as my foot hits the pavement what kind of run I'm going to have. Some days are great and I feel like a real runner. Other days my body yells, "NO!" and I know it's going to be a hard go. On your blog, you might have days where your post is tweeted and pinned and stumbled and everyone and their Mom is commenting. Other days the sound of crickets is so loud you can hear it even when you're not on your blog. It's so arbitrary. You never know the day you will have.
- Sometimes you need to adjust your goals. Sometimes when people start running, they get overzealous and say things like, "Next month I'll run a marathon!" Sometimes they do, but those people often have to take it down a notch and perhaps aim for a 10K or a 5K instead. They've learned to adjust their goals. Blogging is like that too. You may have started blogging with certain goals but then realized that they weren't right for you. Not at this moment, anyway. It's okay to change your blogging goals.
- You have to keep it up. Miss a couple of weeks running and you have to rebuild. You can't go as fast or as far without stopping. When you blog, you have to be consistent. If not, you lose those great stats you gained and possibly a few followers. Sometimes you have to stop though, so don't worry too much about it (more on that later).
- There are treadmill days. If there's a blizzard or it's so hot outside your sneakers melt on the pavement, you're not running outside. It's to the treadmill! It's not very exciting, running in place like a gerbil. There are treadmill days on the blog when you think you've been reading the same old books and saying the same old things. You have no new ideas. You're blogging but the fire is not in you. It's called Blogger's Block. It happens. You will run outside again!
- The technology is amazing! Running gear is unbelievable. You've got the special running shirts and pants with the pockets for keys and iPods. The iPods have special apps to let you know how fast and far you're running. And the shoes! They look like something created by NASA scientists. When I started my blog, I knew almost nothing about the technical stuff. I think I figured out how to install a feed in the first couple of months. Now there are codes for tracking blog statistics, buttons for pinning and tweeting, you can even make your blog mobile. There are so many things out there for blogging, I don't even know the half of them.
- Pride and achievement. Yes, it sounds corny, but it's true. You have family and friends who are proud of you and cheer you on at the finish line. Most importantly you will be proud of yourself when you meet your goals. Forget about the people who think you are crazy. Do it for yourself. Okay, so with blogging there are those who think doing this and not getting paid is crazy too. Just think of the authors who appreciate what you do, the readers who say they are glad to find your review because they thought they were the only ones who felt that way about a book, and the new bloggers you'll inspire to start their own blogs.
- Running isn't everything. Neither is blogging. Sometimes these things need to simmer on the back burner while you deal with personal or work issues, have a baby, get married, deal with an illness or a million other things that need taking care of. That's okay. The friends you've made will understand if you put things on pause. The road or the blog will be there for you to take back up when you're ready.
Whether you run yourself or not, I hope you've taken something away from this post. Blogging is not a sprint but a marathon. Every time you post you take is a step toward becoming the blogger you want to be.